UPS strike to end

August 19, 1997

From AP and staff reports

Fleets of familiar brown delivery trucks may be chugging in a few days after UPS and the Teamsters announced agreement today to end a 15-day strike that crippled the nation's largest package carrier.

But United Parcel Service officials warned of possibly 15,000 layoffs as the company struggles to rebuild business lost in a strike that idled 185,000 workers.

''We realize that our customers have suffered many inconveniences, and I want to assure them that our great service is going to be available to them very soon,'' David Murray, chief negotiator for UPS, said this morning.


Approval of the deal may come as early as tonight.

Teamsters leaders from around the country and members of the bargaining committee were flying to Washington, D.C., today to consider ratification.

Representatives of Teamsters Local 992 - which has 390 members at the Hagerstown, Chambersburg, Pa., and Frederick, Md., UPS centers - are going to Washington for the meeting tonight, business agent Bill Armes said.

When local employees get back to work will depend on how the meetings go, Armes said.

The picket lines will stay up in the meantime, he said.

"Once we have these meetings, we'll know more," Armes said. "We're looking for guidance from our leadership."

UPS driver Judy Reese said she's encouraged based on what she has heard so far about the agreement.

Reese, who works out of the Hagerstown center, said she's hoping that business lost because of the strike won't cost too many local jobs.

She said it will be up to her and other drivers to work a little harder to get those customers back.

There's no question that the strike was necessary, Reese said.

"We needed to get jobs for these part-timers. We had to take control. We're tired of taking it on the chin," said Reese, 33, who worked part-time seven years before becoming full-time recently.

The two sides agreed late Monday night to a five-year deal that includes the creation of 10,000 new full-time jobs from existing part-time positions. The company also will raise pay for full-time workers by $3.10 an hour over the life of the contract and agreed to keep a multi-employer pension plan.

Before the strike, an average full-time driver for UPS was paid $19.95 an hour.

After years of ''taking it on the chin, working families are telling big companies that we will fight for the American dream,'' Teamsters President Ron Carey said. ''This is not just a Teamster victory, this is a victory for all working people.''

Murray, who appeared with Labor Secretary Alexis Herman and Carey, added that the company hopes to welcome back the striking employees quickly.

UPS spokesman Ken Sternad told CNN ''we have a plan to get our business up and running very quickly''' but ''conceivably'' up to 15,000 jobs might be lost.

''Certainly there are jobs that will not be there,'' he said at UPS headquarters in Atlanta. ''Hopefully, through growth we will be able to replace them eventually. It will just depend on package flows.''

Lost business

Competitors rushed into the vacuum created by the strike and Sternad estimated 5 percent of UPS business might continue to be taken by them

UPS officials would not detail the concessions they won from the Teamsters, but Carey acknowledged the five-year plan was longer than he wanted.

On Martha's Vineyard, a vacationing President Clinton praised both sides for coming together.

''The issues that were at the heart of their negotiations are important to our nation's economic strength and to all Americans,'' he said in a written statement.

''This was nip and tuck until the last moments,'' chief mediator John Calhoun Wells said today on ABC's ''Good Morning America.'' ''It was about five minutes before we announced the agreement that the handshake took place.''

Herman said the agreement is significant for the whole country because it takes historic steps toward providing health and retirement benefits for part-time workers. She gave no details.

''What we saw working was collective bargaining at its best,'' she said.

In Los Angeles, Lorenzo Cheeks, a part-timer who has worked 26 years for UPS, heard the news while he walked a picket line.

''I started off here as a student working my way through college and I got caught up in this UPS brainwashing. I got locked in,'' said Cheeks, 46. ''When times were lean, I still hung in there. I should've brought up the part-time issue years 10 years ago.''

About 58 percent of UPS jobs are filled by part-time workers, and their $8 an hour base salary has not increased since 1982. Under the deal, their starting wage would increase by 50 cents an hour.

The Teamsters, who represent nearly two-thirds of the 302,000 UPS employees in the United States went on strike Aug. 4. Their contract expired July 31.

The Herald-Mail Articles